A few news items to get to:
- The Sun Dome called a press conference today to announce that the grand opening show at the renovated arena will be... a rock and roll Hall of Famer... a man who's sold 250 million records and had nine #1 hits... Elton John! Elton John will play the Sun Dome on September 14th. It's not on his tour schedule yet, but it was just announced today.
I think this is an excellent choice of artist to unveil the new Sun Dome as an events venue. Based on the crowds I saw when he and Billy Joel played the Qwest Center here in Omaha, he will appeal to a wide range of people: young and old, male and female, etc. Remember, the Sun Dome isn't just for USF Athletics, but for community events as well. This choice seems calculated to attract a lot of different types of people to the new facility, for a sold-out show from a music legend. A great experience might bring them back for more.
- Also taking advantage of USF Athletics' fine new facilities is the United States men's national soccer team. The USMNT is using the new USF Soccer Stadium to train for its first World Cup qualifying match, against Antigua and Barbuda. Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, star forward Landon Donovan, and goalkeeper Tim Howard all praised the facility. The USA plays Antigua and Barbuda at Raymond James on Friday night.
- The 2012 Major League Baseball draft has concluded. Three USF players, and three incoming recruits, were chosen: high schooler Andrew Lockett (4th round, Padres); junior pitcher Austin Adams (8th round, Angels); high school catcher Levi Borders (11th round, Braves); senior starting pitchers Derrick Stultz (14th round, Diamondbacks); senior pitcher Andrew Barbosa (36th round, Diamondbacks); and incoming freshman pitcher Jimmy Herget (40th round, Braves).
Will Lockett, Borders and Herget still come to USF? It's more likely than in the past, thanks to some new restrictions on signing bonuses. Basically, each team has a spending cap for signing bonuses, and there are stiff penalties for exceeding it. So MLB teams can no longer take college-bound players late in the draft and throw large bonuses at them. This also means that teams have to manage overall signing budgets: more money for draftee A means less for draftee B, and some draftee Bs will inevitably go to college instead. To make it even tougher for MLB teams, the deadline to sign their draft picks has been moved up a month. So we'll know by July 13 if these three players are coming to USF, or if they'll go the way of Rock Shoulders.
Matt Grothe has been released by the Tampa Bay Storm, and signed with the Orlando Predators. Greg Auman works through the various levels of irony in that.
- USF's longest-tenured coach has announced his retirement. Men's tennis coach Don Barr has decided to retire after twenty seasons at USF, nine NCAA appearances, six conference championships, and four different conferences. (Twenty years goes all the way back to the Sun Belt, folks.) We wish him the best in his new role of Director of Men's Tennis Operations at USF.